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BlueIce Software, LLC IT Services for Government and Businesses: Office 365, Azure, SharePoint, Exchange, Drupal, WordPress, Infographics, Section 508, Business Analysis

Microsoft forms!
10/04/2017
SharePoint web part powered by Microsoft Forms

Microsoft forms!

In SharePoint, using pages is a great way to share ideas and collect feedback. You can now use a Microsoft Forms web part on your SharePoint pages to collect responses, or show survey results right on your site. Note: This update will coming soon for Office 365 Commercial and Education customers. .....

Technical diagrams for SharePoint 2016
11/30/2016
Technical diagrams for SharePoint 2016

Technical diagrams for SharePoint 2016

Summary: These diagrams provide visual representations of recommended solutions for SharePoint Server 2016 in the form of models, which are poster-size documents.

Did SharePoint 2016 Deliver as Expected?
11/23/2016
Did SharePoint 2016 Deliver as Expected?

Did SharePoint 2016 Deliver as Expected?

So SharePoint 2016 has been out for a while now, and lots of the clients I have worked with have made or are making strides to get to 2016. SharePoint 2016 was the long awaited update to SharePoint 2013 and promised quite a few features and updates that would make our On-Premises deployments better…

11/09/2016

Foley on Microsoft

Can Bots Make Skype More Pervasive?

By Mary Jo Foley
08/26/2016

It was a simpler time when Microsoft bought Skype in 2011, a well-known and relatively popular free messaging platform the company likely bought as much for its brand recognition than for its unique contribution to its existing tech portfolio.

Now, Microsoft execs want to do more than simply stay the course with Skype. Redmond wants to make Skype the centerpiece of its productivity strategy by expanding its charter to compete head-on with companies like Facebook, Telegram and Slack.

That's an ambitious goal for the consumer-focused communications service that is as noted for its reliability and performance issues as it is for its messaging, voice and video capabilities and a market full of competitors fighting to defend their turf.

Microsoft execs claim they're working behind the scenes to transition Skype from running on a peer-to-peer (P2P) backbone to one that's Microsoft Azure-based to make the service more robust and able to work better across different platforms. There are still some pieces of Skype that are running on P2P, though Microsoft expects Skype consumers to be almost all cloud before the end of calendar 2016. Newer Skype services such as file sharing, identity and group chat already are on Azure. And as audio and video communications go from P2P to Azure, Microsoft execs claim many of the current Skype annoyances and issues may work themselves out.

Rumors had surfaced earlier this year that Microsoft considered buying collaboration platform vendor Slack for as much as $8 billion, but, supposedly, CEO Satya Nadella decided that Skype could do everything Slack offered -- and more -- hence opting to bet on Skype for its communication/collaboration mix. Microsoft also built a Skype-Slack integration layer letting Slack users launch Skype voice or video calls from that app.

Microsoft also is betting on Skype as its horse in the chat-bot race. At its Build developer conference this past spring, Nadella and other execs introduced Skype bots as key to the "conversation-as-a-service" concept, which included the launch of its Bot Framework and its underlying Skype Bots. Now in preview, Microsoft is encouraging developers to build conversational computing capabilities into their apps.

The introduction of Skype Bots felt more like aspirational positioning than delivery of a platform ready to compete with those offering bots as the successor to single-purpose apps. At Build, Microsoft officials demonstrated previews of some single-purpose bots for the framework including its Bot Directory. While there are only about 30 Skype bots featured in Microsoft's Bot Framework directory as of early August, company officials claim 30,000 developers are building bots on its platform.

Where Skype Bots get more interesting, and potentially more relevant to Microsoft's mission to reinvent productivity, is in how these bots will make use of Bing's knowledge graph to go beyond trivial interactions (like conversing with Spock or getting a daily horoscope) to getting useful tasks accomplished. Like Google, Microsoft is believed to be building a central productivity agent -- which, in Microsoft's case, is called "Bing Concierge Bot" -- that can work across a variety of messaging platforms and handle more complex queries using natural language.

Nadella recently told Bloomberg Businessweek that he sees conversation as a platform as one of a handful of key platform shifts now underway. Others include mobile-first/cloud-first, AI/machine learning and augmented reality or, in other words, all the areas where Microsoft already is making big bets. In many ways, all of these areas of focus come back to Microsoft's stated mission regarding making personal computing "more personal" via voice, handwriting, computer vision and natural language texting input options. Because Skype is now the primary vector for several of these interaction methods, there's a lot of pressure on the Skype team to step up its game right now.

About the Author
Mary Jo Foley is editor of the ZDNet "All About Microsoft" blog and has been covering Microsoft for about two decades. She's the author of "Microsoft 2.0" (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), which examines what's next for Microsoft in the post-Gates era.

Good question.
11/08/2016
QuantumPM Inc

Good question.

The Azure Cloud has met strict levels of security. If the government can use it, why can't you?!

11/04/2016

Word of the Day WhatIs.com November 4, 2016

POISON MAILBOX

A poison mailbox is a corrupted mailbox on the Exchange Server that causes disruptions on the Exchange database store.
A poison mailbox can cause the store to fail or prohibit access to all the mailboxes hosted by the Exchange Server. Exchange Server 2010 and later versions can identify and quarantine a poison mailbox before it disrupts the Exchange store and threatens the messaging platform.

Exchange Server quarantines a poison mailbox if a thread associated with that mailbox crashes, or more than five threads on a mailbox process have stalled. In either case, Exchange Server creates a registry key leading to the poison mailbox ID which includes the number of times the mailbox has crashed the store and the last time the mailbox crashed the store. If Exchange Server flags a mailbox as poisoned three times in two hours, then it will quarantine that mailbox for six hours before being released.
Exchange administrators can adjust the number of times a mailbox can be identified as poisoned before it is quarantined. They can also change the length of time a mailbox remains in quarantine before the Exchange Server releases it.

Exchange Server isolates a quarantined mailbox from users and other Exchange processes -- such as content indexing and mailbox tools -- until it lifts the quarantine. If an administrator troubleshoots and corrects the root cause of the poison mailbox event, they can manually release the quarantined mailbox by deleting the registry key for the crash event. If the administrator does not identify and correct the root cause, Exchange will release the poison mailbox automatically when the quarantine duration expires.

Administrators can check the system event log and search for event 10018 to identify quarantined mailboxes. Other log events may point to potential thread ex*****on problems -- which may lead to poison mailbox quarantines -- such as a time-out on the Exchange Server (event 10025), a time-out on the database (event 10026), and a time-out on an individual mailbox (event 10027).

Administrators can see the MSExchangeIS Mailbox\Quarantined Mailbox Count counter in the Performance Monitor monitoring tool to track quarantined mailboxes. PowerShell allows administrators to gauge the quarantined state of a mailbox using the Get-MailboxStatistics cmdlet. Administrators can use the New-MailboxRepairRequest cmdlet in PowerShell to detect and repair mailbox or store corruptions in Exchange 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and later.

11/01/2016

Buzzword Alert (WhatIs.com)
ACCESS GOVERNANCE (AG)
Access governance (AG) is an aspect of information technology (IT) security management that seeks to reduce the risks associated with excessive access rights, inactive users and orphan accounts.

10/31/2016

Word of the Day
Daily updates on the latest technology terms|October 28, 2016 WhatIs.com
COMPOSABLE INFRASTRUCTURE

Daily updates on the latest technology terms
Wh |October 28, 2016

A composable infrastructure is an information technology framework whose physical compute, storage and network fabric resources are treated as services.

In a composable infrastructure, resources are logically pooled so that administrators don't have to physically configure hardware to support a specific software application. Instead, the software's developer defines the application's requirements for physical infrastructure using policies and service profiles and then the software calls those services it requires with application
programming interfaces (APIs).

This approach allows an application to create (compose) the infrastructure it needs to run on either bare metal, as a virtual
machine (VM) or as a container.

A composable infrastructure negates the need for IT administrators to be concerned with the physical location of infrastructure components. Instead, the framework defines what individual objects of composure exist and each object exposes information about itself through a management API. When a software application requests infrastructure to run, available services are located through an automated discovery process and resources are allocated
on demand. After an infrastructure resource is no longer required, it is reappropriated so it can be allocated to another application that needs it.

The goal of a composable infrastructure is to allow an enterprise data center to use its own physical infrastructure in a more cost-effective manner by reducing waste and the amount of time it takes to deploy a new application.

Several vendors, including HP Enterprise and Cisco are promoting the concept as a way for internal IT departments to provision workloads just as quickly and efficiently as public cloud service providers can, while still maintaining control over the infrastructure that supports mission-critical applications in a private cloud setting. The concept of pooling physical infrastructure resources and
building infrastructure logically is supported by the growing popularity of software-defined networking (SDN), object storage, converged infrastructure and DevOps.

As of this writing, there are no agreed-upon standards for deploying a composable infrastructure and different vendors and proponents are describing composable infrastructure by different names -- including programmable infrastructure, intelligent infrastructure, software-defined infrastructure, Infrastructure as Code (IaC), decoupled infrastructure and hardware disaggregation.

Quote of the Day
"It is known as disaggregation or
composable infrastructure, and
it involves breaking apart the
various components of the data
center IT infrastructure and
bringing them together in new
ways to meet the needs of
specific workloads." -- Robert
Gates

10/24/2016

CASE STUDIES: OFFICE 365
How They Did It: Cloud Success Stories:

by Rutrell Yasin, March 23, 2015, Federal Times
The year 2013 was a busy one for the
Bureau of Alcohol, To***co, Firearms and Explosives, which moved its website and email to various cloud infrastructures to
achieve greater operational efficiency and costs savings. A law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice, ATF moved atf.gov to a Drupal platform operated by Acquia and hosted on the Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure. In the same year, the
bureau also moved 7,500 email users to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based messaging and collaboration said Rick Holgate, ATF's assistant director for science and technology and CIO.

Many agencies seeking to modernize and deliver a digital experience to citizens are using Drupal, an open source web content
management system, which lets organizations launch new websites quickly and customize functionality based on mission and audience. The White House and the DOJ websites are powered by Drupal.
Meanwhile, agencies have turned to Google Apps for Government or Microsoft Office 365, the two primary cloud-based messaging and office productivity platforms, to bring down the costs for
maintaining and administrating email and office applications. Both products offer agencies more robust tools for helping staff more easily share documents, participate in workgroups, and access
email and information from mobile devices. Email is typically the first application that agencies move to the cloud, according to a
survey of 150 federal IT leaders conducted by MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT. Fifty percent of those who have implemented cloud say they have moved email. Additionally, 45 percent report they have moved Web hosting, and 43 percent have migrated servers/storage, according to the report, Cloud Without The
Commitment.

ATF's move to Microsoft Office 365 "insulated us from obsolescence," a benefit that is hard to measure in dollars, Holgate said recently at the Microsoft Federal Executive Forum 2015, in
Washington, D.C. The agency moved 7,500 email users from Microsoft Outlook, giving the ATF workforce larger mailboxes along
with robust collaborations tools. The Outlook mailboxes maxed out at 250 megabytes, but with the switch to Office 365 users mmediately got 5 gigabytes of storage capacity as well as SharePoint collaboration software, which they did not have prior to the move to the cloud, Holgate told Federal Times in an interview.
Other improvements included archiving and discovery capabilities as well improved availability. One of the main challenges was achieving the level of security that would meet the requirements of a law enforcement agency such as the ATF. After reviewing audit logs,
agency officials determined that Microsoft Office 365 adhered to the security controls detailed in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Publication 800-53. However, the real concerns involved the background checks and security clearances of Microsoft's operational team who would have access to ATF data.
ATF needed to understand "who had access to our data and if we could trust people who had access to our data with that level of access," Holgate said. It took ATF "the course of a year" to solve
personnel security issues before the agency moved to Office 365 in a dedicated environment that supports International Traffic in Arms Regulations. ATF is looking to evolve into the next version of Microsoft Office 365 for ITAR, which will offer more agility and scalability, Holgate noted. The agency will also explore the possibility of putting more E-forms into the cloud, he said.

The ATF issued a task order for Microsoft Office 365 in June 2012 as part of a DOJ enterprise agreement contract. By January 2013, the agency had defined its requirements and initiated user awareness and adoption plans. The agency's IT team had also "cleaned" on premise Microsoft Active Directory and public folders in
preparation for the move to the cloud. They also ordered, tested and activated network circuits through the DOJ's wide-area network, the Justice Unified Telecommunications Network or JUTNet. Other transition work included the validation of network ports and firewall
rules, upgrading mobility device management tools for Office 365
compatibility, synchronization of the ATF Active Directory, and pilot testing, according to a presentation Holgate has given on the migration effort. Actually migration of the workforce to Office 365
took about a week, he said. ATF eventually deployed Office 365 Dedicated for ITAR in mid-2013. Enterprise identity management is a key prerequisite and information and content governance must be defined prior to deployment, according to Holgate.

=============================================
DOL found email business case easy to make Selling the idea of deploying a cloud-based email solution wasn't a difficult sale at the
Department of Labor, said CIO Dawn Leaf, who also spoke at the Microsoft Federal Executive Forum. There was a business case for it because the workforce wanted large mailboxes and more storage space. Last year, DOL completed migration of nine different legacy email systems to a single federal community cloud service,
Microsoft Office 365. That move gave DOL's 17,000-employee workforce 400 times as much storage as they had before. The challenge was standardizing across a federated organization. The IT staff had to modify the firewalls, and move a more consolidated infrastructure just to get to the new service. "There is a fair amount
you have do to your infrastructure to be able to access the final services. We found 150 inconsistencies across our agencies –
per agency – in our network and access infrastructure to get to the cloud," Leaf said.

=============================================
In making its transition to Office 365 for Government, the Environmental Protection Agency moved more than 25,000
employee mailboxes, some of which it discovered held more than a million e-mails. The transition, completed in 2013 is expected to save the EPA approximately $12 million over the four-year contract
period. "The move to Office 365 grew from a pilot of advanced collaboration tools that would help the agency conduct our operations more efficiently and support our work with multiple stakeholders," said Harrell Watkins, acting chief technology officer
and acting director of EPA's Office of Technology Operations and Planning.

Going forward, any existing production applications slated to move to the public cloud will most certainly require reengineering and customization. "As such, consideration for moving systems and
applications to the public cloud will coincide with the [IT] refresh cycle. This ensures we minimize any stranded depreciation or sunk costs," Watkins said.

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